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Conflict Resolution During Wedding Planning

 PC Social and Personal Weddings

PC Social and Personal Weddings

Are you getting into unexpected fights with your Significant Other about napkin colors? Pouring your time, tears, and more emotional stamina than you have into guests lists? Have you stopped caring about who will give a toast at dinner?

...You're probably planning your wedding.

Weddings are notorious for bringing out unusual tension during the planning process in ways that you'd never expect, and may never experience again once the wedding is over. For sure, it's unfortunate timing, as you have a hundred other things to handle that are stressful enough by themselves. It can, However, be viewed as a good opportunity to work through never-before-seen areas of your relationship with your SO to improve your relationship post-wedding. Below are listed three ways to help you manage conflict during your wedding planning process, and afterwards too.

 PC Levo.com

PC Levo.com

Handling Stress

Keep in mind that a lot of relationship tension is stress-induced. Having the correct outlook on stress can significantly impact how it effects you. According to studies presented in This TED Talk, whether stress impacts your health depends on whether you think of it as a good or a bad thing. Stress looked at as a bad addition to your life can begin to break down your mental, emotional, and physical well-being, however, addressing stress with the attitude that it adds an extra bump of energy to your life will only serve to drive you forward, with no side-effects. 

 PC Evans Incorporated

PC Evans Incorporated

Take Time to Communicate

I'm going to be bold and assert that the biggest reason why most Relationship problems occur is not because people make huge mistakes worthy of our dramatic grief, but because we often fail to communicate to one-another. When problems arise between you and your SO (and they WILL arise at some point during the planning process), instead of immediately thinking the worst of them, take the time to repeat back to them what you think is going on or what they said. Chances are, you've misunderstood them. If you hurt each others feelings, use "I feel" statements instead of saying things like "You did..." When we properly communicate our thoughts and feelings, we are more likely to quickly and civilly resolve conflict.

 PC Naples Elite Transportation

PC Naples Elite Transportation

This is YOUR Day

If your mom wants all of her friends to come to the wedding but won't financially contribute to it, your best friend is insisting on wedding colors you don't really like, and your cousins from out of state want you to have the wedding in their town so they don't have to travel...you just need to put your foot down and say "NOPE." This wedding is not about them. You choose the guests you want at YOUR wedding, and where it will be held, and what colors it is in. Pleasing everybody will not result in a happy wedding. The more you try to please everybody, the less "you" this wedding will become, and--believe it or not--the less happy people will become with you because there is simply not enough room or money to compromise for everyone. If you compromise for one person, but not another, you're asking for trouble to arise. Be solid from the start that the wedding choices are yours by setting boundaries. This doesn't give you permission to go Bridezilla, but rather, to respectfully listen to others' ideas and request that they respect your wishes if you say "no."

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Wedding Food Series: Cake and Dessert Options, Part 2

 PC Pink Cake Box

PC Pink Cake Box

Continuing the previous post on cakes and dessert options for your wedding, let's get right into icings to be considered.

Icings

There are many different types of icings to choose from, depending on what texture and look you want for your cake. Different icings vary in how they taste, pair with cakes, and dry on cake. Here are descriptions of the most common icings you will find on cakes. 

Buttercream

Made of real butter, eggs, and sugar, this icing is smooth and dries soft and shiny. Keep in mind that buttercream needs to be refrigerated, and easily melts, as its base is butter. It is not the ideal icing for an outdoor wedding where it will sit in the sun, but is instead a good choice for an indoor event where it will more likely be in an air-conditioned place where the integrity of its shape will be maintained. It is an incredibly versatile frosting choice, as its flavor is easily paired with nearly any cake, and can itself be flavored with choices like almond or mint. 

Fondant

Fondant icing is poured over a cake as a liquid to coat and dry on small cakes, or is rolled into a sheet, and molded around larger cakes like a dough. It tastes similar to marshmallows, and holds up well in heat, as it is very thick, and dries hard and smooth. Because it is thick, it can be shaped into decorative items like flowers, leaves, and other fun cake toppers.

 PC Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking

PC Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking

Marzipan

Marzipan is very sweet-tasting paste made from ground almonds and vanilla, which can be used similarly to fondant. 

Modelling Chocolate

Modelling chocolate be can white,milk or dark chocolate. It can also be applied like fondant, but is prone to melting in sensitive environments just as buttercream is. 

Royal Icing

This icing is made of eggs, icing sugar, and lemon juice. It's very sweet and hardens very quickly, but is a great choice for decorating with because it keeps it shape, and has a pretty, glossy look, like glass or porcelain. 

Meringue

Meringue is light and airy, with a mildly sweet taste. It dries hard, and holds up well in heat as long as it has time to set. It has a very mild taste that complements most cake flavors. It is also a good choice for decorating with.

 PC Tiny Prints Blog

PC Tiny Prints Blog

Decorative Icing

Icing  is not just frosted. It can be piped in hundreds of different shapes to create beautifully elaborate or elegantly simple patterns on your cake, similarly to the cake in the picture above!

Other Decorative Options

Flowers

If using flowers on your cake, go for flowers that match the ones in the bridal bouquet, and--if possible--in colors that match the wedding colors. Ask your confectioner about edible flower options. Inedible flowers can also be used so long as they have not been sprayed with pesticides and are removed before serving. Obviously, silk flowers are also an option. 

Ribbons

Ribbons are often used to call attention to the layers on a tiered cake. They can be made from silk or created from icing options such as fondant. 

 PC Lia Griffith

PC Lia Griffith

Toppers

Wedding cake toppers are best known as being a tiny replica of a bride and groom, but can also be 3D words sitting atop the cake, flowers, crystals, or nearly anything else!  Get creative! 

Other Cake Details To Be Aware Of

Signing the Contract

When you've decided on a confectioner and a cake option you like, it's time to sign the contract. Remember to read everything first before you sign it. Make sure what you're signing is what you agreed to when you talked to your confectioner! In the contract should be the following details... 

Pricing

The deposit and date the cake is to be paid for (often 50%), and when the remainder will be due should be laid out. Make sure this includes delivery fees and all rental costs (such as toppers, cake cutters, cake displays, etc).

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

The Date the Cake will be Prepared

Sometimes cakes take multiple days to prepare! The start and end date of the cake's preparation should be included. 

Cake Transportation

It is usually the confectioner's job to transport the cake to the venue. Make sure the date of the reception, it's location address, and arrival time are listed. 

Ingredients

Make sure a list of cake ingredients is included, as well as a list of acceptable ingredient substitutions for ingredients that may become unavailable when the cake must be baked (I.E. seasonal fruits).

Description

A complete description of the cake, including the number of tiers and layers, flavors and fillings and icing, as well as its decor should be listed. Sometimes pictures can be included to ensure design accuracy. 

Saving The Top Cake

It is traditional for the bride and groom to freeze the top tier of their cake and eat it on their 1st wedding anniversary. If you are serving cupcakes but have a small cake for this purpose, it is customary to cut from that cake to feed each other a bite during the reception, but to then wrap the rest up for freezing. Ask your confectioner to help wrap it up to avoid freezer burn.

Other Dessert Options

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Cupcakes

If you would prefer not to serve a wedding cake, you can choose cupcakes instead! A cupcake tree is a popular option, similar-looking to the picture above. 

Dessert Tables

If your not a cake fanatic, don't worry! Serving cake at your wedding isn't the only option at all. Pies are also good choices, as are chocolate fountains or s'mores. You can serve a candy bar or a build-your-own-sundae bar. Or, if you don't want to focus on anything specific, you can serve a dessert table filled with a variety of cookies, chocolates, cakes, pies, mouses, squares, the list goes on. Get creative!

 PC Luxury Wedding

PC Luxury Wedding

As you can see, while the variety of cake options is huge, the dessert sky is the limit! Forget about tradition, if that's your only reason for choosing cake. Choose the dessert you like the best! What is most important for your wedding dessert is that you're happy with it. Choose the dessert that best suits who you and your fiance are! Your guests will be sure to love it.

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Wedding Food Series: Cake and Dessert Options, Part 1

What comes to mind when choosing the ideal cake for your wedding may be things like the style, the size, and the flavor; but there are some other crucial parts that may slip your mind when you think about your cake.  For example, how the cake reflects the theme of your wedding, or how appropriate the size of your cake may be when considering your guest count. Let's begin to cover some of these aspects to ensure that you'll choose the perfect cake for your wedding.

 PC Style Me Pretty

PC Style Me Pretty

Portion Costs

Portion cost: How much one portion of cake will be per person. One slice may be anywhere between $4-10, which, multiplied by your entire guest count, can add up quickly!  

Cake size is another big factor to consider, because over- or underestimating how big of a cake you need can really mess up your budget--or cause guests to go without cake!

Cake Type

There are several types of cake to choose from:

- Tiered Cakes (which are stacked cake layers resting on wooden or plastic dowels sticking into the cake for support.)

- Small cakes (often a personal cake for the bride and groom to cut from and then take home, while the guests are served something else.)

- Cupcakes (individual cakes for each guest, often served in very creative flavors.) 

-Styrofoam Cakes (Styrofoam shapes covered in frosting on display which are taken away after the initial cake cutting and replaced by cake slices from Sheet Cake cut up in the kitchen, which are then distributed to guests.)

 PC Cake Central

PC Cake Central

Bakery Location vs. Reception Location

 The location of where you get your cake can play a big role in how much you are going to spend on it, along with how easily the cake will transport to the venue. If your venue is in San Francisco, remember that bakeries in high-end cities can charge high-end prices. Ordering from a bakery nearby but not in San Francisco may improve costs. 

A few other things that need to be considered when choosing your cake:

Transportation of The Cake

It is a good idea to keep in mind that a long or difficult transportation of your cake to the venue and be costly as well. For example, if your reception is in the mountains and there are no local bakeries nearby, you may have to pay some hefty transportation costs to get your cake to the wedding from whatever bakery you order from.

Hot Weather

Always make sure that your cake matches the environment it will be in, taking into consideration the sensitivity of the ingredients in the cake. It wouldn't be wise to have an ice cream cake if your wedding is outside in 90 degree weather.  And don't forget about frosting! Butter cream can be very sensitive and melty in the heat, just as a pad of butter tends to melt at room temperatures in your kitchen in the summer. You DON'T want a sad, droopy wedding cake! In situations where the cake is outside for a lengthy period of time in heat, consider choosing fondant as your frosting, which tends to hold up better.

Flavors

There are lots of different flavor options to choose from when it comes to cakes (bakers are so innovative these days!), especially when you're forced to choose a cake flavor, the filling, and a frosting as well! Remember that you can choose multiple flavors if you have multiple cake layers, or if you're offering cupcakes! Choosing flavor combinations makes attending a cake tasting before signing any contracts especially important.

Cake Tasting

 PC Kalmar Kakes

PC Kalmar Kakes

The average cost for a tasting can be around $25-50, which is because the baker must be compensated for the time it takes to prepare the cakes you're tasting, and for the supplies it costs him. In the event that you taste the cake and end up choosing a different baker, this baker has not lost time or money that he was not compensated for. 

Please don't forgo the tasting and sign a contract before knowing what you're going to end up with on your wedding day! Cakes are costly! Choose wisely.

Meal Pairing

Lost when it comes to deciding what flavors to choose? Look no further than your dinner menu! Just as restaurants that serve multiple course meals pair specific entrees with desserts, you can do the same to ensure that your meal flavors compliment each other well. If you are serving such a robust flavor as steak, pairing it with a rich red velvet or chocolate cake makes sense. Similarly, if you're serving fish, or something on the lighter side, going with the wonders of airy and delicate angel food cake, or a cake with a fruity base, may be just the thing.

Allergies

Try and take into account the people at your wedding who may deal with allergies. It's always polite to let people know if there are any major ingredients that are known for being allergens in their cake (try choco-peanut butter bliss cake). Avoiding common-allergy flavors, offering multiple flavors or gluten- and dairy-free options, or simply placing a small placard next to the cake to communicate the allergen to those interested is always appreciated.

Getting the Opinion of the Baker

Always be willing to have an open mind when you're discussing the cake with the baker; he knows what flavors go well together, and may suggest combinations you wouldn't have thought about! 

Take Into Account How Perishable Your Cake May Be

Understanding the technical side of cake-decorating when ordering a more delicate cake will ensure that it will not perish before it's served to guests. For instance, if your cake is filled with fresh fruit, and the outside of the cake requires your baker a full day of decorating, by the time it is served to guests, it may be unsuitable to eat. If you want a very delicate design on the outside of the cake, you will need a sturdy cake with filling that does not require refrigeration. If it's very important to you that you have a fruit-based filling, you will simply need to sacrifice having an intricate outer design.

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Wedding Food Series: Catering Details

This is not going to be the standard, "So you need to find a caterer within your price-range, taste the food, and viola! You've booked a caterer!" blog post. It is my desire to go deeper, and discuss the details that are often forgotten, overlooked, or mere afterthoughts in the realm of booking caterers. I'm not going to discuss the basics here, as there are plenty of other posts out there that go over those many details. 

Let's get right down to it!

 PC Stonefire Grill

PC Stonefire Grill

Types of Catering

There are more than just Buffet and Plated food services to consider.

- Family Style Service is a great option for those concerned about guests waiting in long lines. It's a kind of happy medium between buffet and plated service. Rather than stand in line or wait for pre-plated meals to be served from the kitchen, platters of food are brought to and placed at the tables by servers and guests are able to dish their own plates. 

- French Style Service is another option, although much less common, because it requires a lot of staff. French Style has two servers per table plating food. One server holds the tray of food options, and the other dishes it onto each guest's plate before placing it on the table.

- Russian Style Service, also called White Glove Service, is the most formal service style. Servers in white gloves serve food items on plates already placed at the table, allowing guests to decline items they don't want. So fancy!

 PC Free Hotel Management Training Blog

PC Free Hotel Management Training Blog

Pricing and Quality Considerations

Obviously, there's the general rule that "you get what you pay for" to keep in mind...especially with food! Beyond this, here are some more in-depth ideas to think about.

- Any kind of sit-down food service requires additional staffing, which can increase the bill exponentially! For every two tables of guests, one server should be there to accommodate them. Think about it as a restaurant set-up! Is it efficient for a restaurant accommodating your guest count to run on the same amount of staff as at your wedding? If you feel it’s not, then you should seriously consider adding more service staff to your catering contract.

- Unlike the myth, buffet is generally cheaper not because less food is served (based on the idea that guests decline the food they don't wish to eat) but because less service staff is needed. Buffets actually have to prepare MORE food than a plated meal might, because people serving themselves may choose more or less than a standard serving, and the caterer needs to ensure that every guest, served first or last, has every food option available. 

- Don't forget about tipping your caterer's service staff at the end of the event! Sometimes contracts include this already, but not 100% of the time. Service staff deserve to be tipped 10-15% of the total catering cost, just as waitstaff at restaurants expect tips. This tip will be split evenly between each staff member.

- Is your caterer licensed? Just because they have a website doesn't mean they're licensed to serve food. Most generally, are, but it's always smart to check. Ask to see a copy of of it. You want the food you're paying so much money for to be top-notch, so it's worth the effort to check.

- This is a more common money-saving tip, but it bears repeating. Choose seasonable produce to help control the ingredient costs. If you're having a wedding in the winter, don't choose summer fruits and veggies for the sides! This will be so much more expensive on the caterer's end, and he'd be foolish not to charge extra for it. Ask your caterer what seasonal sides he recommends serving.

 PC Sweet Alexis Vegan and Allergy Friendly Bakery

PC Sweet Alexis Vegan and Allergy Friendly Bakery

Picky Eaters and Extra Meals

- As allergies and specific diets become more common, caterers are getting better about offering these specific accommodations. Take advantage of this to accommodate any friends with food allergies or preferences. Consider ordering some options for vegans and vegetarians, and serving some common allergy-friendly goodies, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or nut-free sides and desserts. Making a small sign out of card stock to indicate these allergy-friendly foods will be greatly appreciated, as those with allergies often will just skip over foods that commonly contain allergens. In addition, signs indicating foods that DO have these common allergens in them will also help prevent any guests with strong allergies from having reactions!

- Vendors working the wedding have to eat too! It is courtesy to feed your photographers, DJ's, coordinators, etc. at the reception if a meal is being served. Give your caterer the vendor count, letting him know that they are vendors, as they won't need all the fancy embellishments he may be planning for your guests.

- Sometimes extra guests who didn't RSVP (or +1's who weren't invited!) show up too! Have your caterer plan for around five extra meals for unexpected guests. It's worth it to be prepared. If in the end they go unneeded, you have extra food you can take home!

- Speaking of headcount, do keep in mind that your caterer will need the final headcount number about a week before the wedding. Plan to have your final RSVP count by this time.

Wait Time

Weddings are notorious for their long buffet lines...

- Setting up the buffet tables so guests can walk down both sides of them helps eliminate guest wait time.

- Setting up serving “stations” (i.e. multiple buffet tables) can also help the line go faster.

Other

Does your caterer offer more than just food?

- Ask your caterer if they provide rentals, such as chairs, tables, linens, tableware, etc. to consolidate vendors. Often, adding extra services to a package with a vendor you're already working with will be cheaper than adding an extra vendor to your team.  

- Does the caterer also make cakes or bar tend? This can make the menu more cohesive, eliminate additional staff, and consolidate your vendor team. 

- Remember to get as many details included in your catering contract as possible. Some good details to have on the contract (in addition to standard items, such as menu, pricing, etc.) are the caterer's arrival, set up, dinner, and tear-down times, server-to-guest ratio, and any fees, such as overtime, delivery, cake cutting, and corkage fees.

 PC Grace For Dover

PC Grace For Dover

Whew! That was a lot of information! Feeling overwhelmed? Don't be! If you find the right caterer, they will walk you through the process and make your wedding food experience amazing. Questions? Feel free to ask down below.

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Let's Put Our Hands Together for All-Inclusive Venues

 PC Le Bam Studio

PC Le Bam Studio

I've been on the hunt for a venue for some clients recently, and I've run into numerous all-inclusive venues with some tempting offers.

All-inclusive venues can be known for taking advantage of clients by requiring that certain services--such as catering and alcohol--be purchased in addition to just the venue, else you pay some meal and corkage fees. They get a bad wrap for being expensive...but as I researched and compared pricing for independent vendors vs. all-inclusive venues, it began to appear that the all-inclusive venue might actually be the better deal...

1) Less Vendors to Keep Track Of

How convenient would it be to make a couple of large payments, rather than a dozen or more small ones to pull your wedding together? Imagine how much fewer emails you'll have to manage, consultations you'll have to attend, and wedding liability issues you'll avoid altogether if your venue is handling the food, the bar, the chairs and tables, your decor... All you'll have to do is bring in a photographer, officiant, DJ, and a few other vendors and you're be set!

2) Less Set-Up and Tear-Down to Manage

When your venue provides everything that involves any kind of set-up or tear-down, it means that they are responsible for doing just that. This means you won't have to rent your venue for the hours it would take to set up and tear down, and you or your coordinator won't have to be there for set-up and tear down. How convenient!

3) Less Staff To Pay

One of the reasons all-inclusive venues are on the pricier side is due to the fact that these venues have a larger staff to pay to be present for the duration of your event than a venue that doesn't offer extra services would. Because of this, you're not just paying for the use of a space, but the hourly wage of a dozen or so staff's time. How much staff would independent vendors also add up to, though? Rentals and catering alone require a group of people, as does floral decor... Additionally, the staff at this venue are trained and experienced to work at that particular location, and will most likely do a better job at solving and preventing common problems, ensuring things run smoothly, etc. 

In the end, how much more would your all-inclusive venue cost? Of course, in some cases, venues are just very pricey; but if you find the ones within your price-range, and compare them to the costs of paying independent vendors, you might be surprised at how little a difference there is in favor of the vendors. 

On a budget? That doesn't rule out all-inclusive venues, guys! Do some exploring, and you might be surprised at the great deals you'll find!

Oh, and my favorite venue site right now? https://www.wedding-spot.com/

You'll thank me later.

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The Tricky Thing About New Year Resolutions

 PC Wear Action

PC Wear Action

You know what I'm talking about.

You get to the end of the year and you've eaten your share of holiday nostalgia, dropped the workout routine "due to necessary family commitments", and spent so much money that you're afraid to look at your bank account balance. We're such wrecks by the end of each year that New Year Resolutions just seem like the perfect opportunity to--forgive the stereotypical expression--start all over again. 

But come on, how effective are they really if we habitually forget about them after two weeks? Every single year? 

I wrote a blog post about this last year on another site where I stood adamantly against New Year Resolutions, holding fast to the idea that commitments like the ones we use for for them ought to be implemented immediately if we really believe in their value, rather than waiting until January 1st. After all, it's because we don't believe enough in their value that they only last the stereotypical two weeks. 

This led me to campaign to my friends, family, and LinkedIn about how--rather than setting lofty goals for January 1st, we should focus more on setting goals we can implement immediately. 

Time passed. I started my business this summer and have been working, picking up speed, and am now living and working at such a fast pace--meanwhile pushing to the side priorities like taking the time to eat well, vacuuming the house, and updating my Business Instagram--that a clean slate come January 1st sounds really good. 

I came to realize that the New Year Resolution may not even be about the actual Resolution. Maybe it's something we've created to give us the mental clean slate that we need after a year of the crazy, especially after a month of holiday binging, overworking, or whatever your vice is. I know that I need this; in the same way that I clear my morning thoughts with a fresh To-Do List even if yesterday's still has some unchecked boxes, every year needs a new, fresh start. And if that means adding a "Go to the gym" box to your daily routine, that's great!

Sometimes life needs to be changed up a bit. It's a good thing. Even if you do give up on the thing you originally set out to do, sometimes the setting out part is all that you need.

On the other hand, let's talk about the actual resolutions that we tend to set. Working out and dieting are healthy goals, but let's be real: they're overused, and there are so many other (more interesting) resolution options out there! 

For instance, this year I want to say "thank you" more, and try to complain less. To empathize with people instead of judge them. 

How life-changing would it be to resolve to unplug our social media when we are spending time with friends and family-members? To resolve to give to the homeless, or to a charity we care about, on a regular basis? What about controlling our tempers, and focusing on calmly, verbally expressing our feelings instead of whatever it is we do instead?

There are so many things we can resolve to do that can make a bigger difference than our physical appearances can. Obviously, taking care of our physical health is important, and we should be doing that regardless of what our New Year Resolution is. Something more internal might stick longer though...and it has the potential to turn something that was negative into a new good habit!

So this year I'm not turning my nose up at the New Year Resolution. Instead, I'm going to adopt one that personally matters to me...enough that I think it might last longer than the first couple of weeks of January. Who's with me?

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Diary of a Wedding Planner, Part 2

 PC Engstrom Photography

PC Engstrom Photography

I'm so excited to kick off 2017 with a new, great, big business step forward! I'm going to launch a wedding product line! I can't give away the details just yeeeeet, but I've been conducting research, bouncing ideas off of my friends and family, and starting to gather items to be used for said products. Now that wedding season is officially over, and engagement season has begun, I have the time to re-brand myself a little bit in anticipation of this product line. Sheesh! Who knew that there was so much that went into making and selling stuff?

In other news, now that my December wedding is officially over (pictures coming as soon as the photographer releases them!) I am free to focus on the six other weddings I am in the midst of planning and coordinating. It's a lot of computer research, paperwork, and emails, which I really enjoy. I love the freedom of not having to pass my communication with clients and vendors by anyone else--such as a boss. It's just me! How crazy awesome it is to be able to call the shots. It saves so much time and keeps things organized, as information goes through less hands this way. 

I am also excited that as I work with more vendors, I am beginning to pull together a cohesive Preferred Vendors List, especially because it means there's a possibility of working with my favorite vendors more than once. I really love strengthening my relationships with great vendors, because it makes working with them during weddings organized, predictable, and enjoyable.

As a wedding planner, I sometimes feel as though other vendors worry I'm just there to tell them how to do their jobs. On the contrary, I don't want to have to do that--I have my own job to get done. Instead, I want to work with vendors who know how to do their jobs better than I even understand. Rather than worry they'll do it wrong, it's my dream (I'm serious, my DREAM!) to work with a group of vendors who can seamlessly work together to pull off a beautiful wedding. 

December is almost over! Uh, when did that happen? As this year inches near it's closing, I feel proud of what this business has accomplished in the seven months it's been around, and look forward to what 2017 will bring. Here's to growth in personal knowledge and experience, and to the happiness and success of all my clients' marriages. 

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Weddings: You Get Exactly What You Pay For

 PC Skyline Trade Show Tips

PC Skyline Trade Show Tips

I don't mean to be a bummer here. I AM a budgeting specialist, after all. But in my (recent) experience, it has become exceedingly clear that you absolutely get what you pay for.

That being said...is it possible to find adorable Sweetheart Table Decor on sale at Target, Party City or on Amazon? Yes!

Is it possible to save money by DIY-ing wedding favors that would cost twice as much to pay a company to put together for you? Totally!

Is it even possible to catch the vendor you want to hire having a sale on the perfect package? If you're lucky! (Jump on that, by the way! That's great!)

BUT what you can't do is bargain-hunt your vendors. It's the difference between coupon-clipping at reputable stores who have the occasional sale, and regularly shopping at the Dollar Store. The stuff at the Dollar Store cost less, therefore, it is worth less. 

A great example can be made of a recent wedding that I had the pleasure of coordinating. The florist was a wonderful lady that I believe was honest and ethical, and who did more than her job to accommodate a bride who wanted more than she was willing to pay. The bouquets of roses were a little bruised on the tips, but looking at the pricing on the contract, I know it was due only to a severely limited budget. Even so, the bride was very upset that the vendor dared deliver such work, and tried to get a discount. The florist came to me later and explained how she felt her hands were tied behind her back. There was nothing she could do if she didn't want to pay more for the roses than the bride was paying her to make them.

I understand that when you're in the lower- or middle-class, the average wedding budget can seem like a lot more than it turns out to be when translated into Wedding. But unlike the bargains you can conger up on a shopping trip, vendors whose bills are paid by the people who book them cannot afford to let everyone who asks get 50% off. Especially considering that there are only so many weekends in a year, and only so many of those that they may be able to book, it is vital that vendors charge enough to live off of. Their work is valuable, and if you choose to hire a DJ or a Florist or a Photographer for your wedding, you're going to have to pay for the quality that you expect.

This is true because--of course--vendors with low prices do exist. But vendors with low prices don't charge low fees because they somehow need less to live off of. They charge what they charge because they are hobbyists, they are inexperienced, or because the products and services they are offering are low-quality, and don't cost them much time or money to produce. 

You get what you pay for. You pay a high price to a reputable hotel for an all-inclusive wedding? You get all-inclusive. Things will run smoothly, people will do their jobs well, and your good money will have been well-spent. But you pull together a team of vendors who charge next to nothing--and then you expect a wedding with all the bells and whistles--and you'll be disappointed. 

Certainly, low-budget weddings can and should exist. Everyone deserves to have a wedding! All I'm trying to point out is that you shouldn't expect your vendors to deliver products and services you clearly aren't paying enough for. If you have a low budget for flowers, then simply don't choose expensive, out-of-season flowers. If you have a low budget for food, invite less guests to maximize food costs, or consider a food truck. If you can't afford a DJ--maybe don't hire a DJ. Not every child's 12th birthday is the magnificent Bat Mitzvah with the three course dinner,  plethora of decorations and bouncy houses, and clown handing out balloons that you've heard of. It's the same with weddings. Throw the wedding that you can afford, instead of pretending--up until your wedding day, when it all becomes clear--that you're throwing the one you haven't actually financially invested in. 

I'm not trying to be harsh at all. It is just so vitally important to understand that prices on wedding services don't lie. You can't get it for less. You might be able to get something ELSE for less, but it will cost less because you will be getting less.

Anybody have relevant experiences to share in the comments below? I'd love your input! 

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The Wedding Gown: A Finale

Today is the rehearsal for a wedding happening tomorrow, which is super exciting, but also crazy busy for me. So today, instead of a regular blog post, I am instead going to show you the third and final YouTube video on altering a wedding gown that I used for a photo shoot earlier this year. If you haven't seen the previous videos, you can check them out here and here. Enjoy!

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Diary of a Wedding Planner, Excerpt 1

 PC Shelley DeJager

PC Shelley DeJager

Dear Diary,

Before I started my business I felt that there was a large distinction between small businesses and large businesses. Trying to unpack why this is the case has been a very complex process for me for many reasons, but one of note is that when I was in the single digits of my life, my family started a business creating and selling beeswax candles, lip balm, and other natural products at farmers markets, boutiques, and online. My brothers and I learned from our parents the entire creation process of these products, along with the hustle of packaging and marketing. To me, we were a small business. I understood the importance of turning a profit, because the products we sold had initial costs and took time to put together, but I also knew that we weren't making much money based on the amount we sold each week. We eventually stopped producing and selling these products and closed our business; it was an invaluable experience for me, and I've since gone on to start multiple small businesses myself, but that initial experience gave me the impression that unless a business is huge, it is incapable of turning a sustainable profit. That is, one to live on.

At least, this was my opinion of businesses that sold products. Maybe this explains why I've gravitated forward the service industry instead of the product industry, since it becomes a matter of selling time and effort rather than a product that is the result of time and effort. For whatever reason, people will spend a lot more money paying for time and effort than they will for a product, which--I imagine--is partly because a product is only as valuable to its buyer as its benefits are. To its producers, however, it's price tag pays for the wage of workers, the cost of the product's parts, the costs of marketing and business, and a little extra to make it all worthwhile for the business owner. Two very different perspectives on the item's cost that will only sell sustainably if both seller and buyer consider the same cost to be reasonable. 

Maybe it's not so different as I make it out to be, though. In many ways, being in the business of selling my services, I am the product people are buying. The stakes are higher this way, since unsatisfied customers will be directly unsatisfied with me; however, it connects the value of my clients' money to a person, and it forces them to understand that business is...well, personal. I am a person. The effort that I make has human constraint, and is limited by the fact that--as a person--I have a personal life in addition to my business. 

Being a small business owner, I am not branded enough that--like Target, or Krispy Kreme, or Clark Pest Control--when you think about me, you imagine a business made up of effective products, professional phone answering services, or locations characterized by standard logo colors and lit up text above the doors. The reality of my business is that it's just me. I work on my computer. I designed and run my website myself. I take my Instagram pictures, choose the filters, and think of my own captions and hashtags. I answer all of my business phone calls, texts, and emails; I pay for the gasoline that it costs my car to meet with my clients, and I write it off as a business expense on my taxes. I do my work at my desk when I'm home, on my phone when I'm out, or on site with clients, and I do it simultaneously with my private everyday life.

Amidst all of this meshing of business and personal life I have felt that I struggled to keep my personal and professional lives in separate boxes. Sure, I lived in the same place that I worked, but if other brands could keep things clear of any evidence that it was run by imperfect people, why couldn't I? 

And that's the punchline, everybody.

Every business is run by imperfect people.

Nothing about it is actually mechanical--the Trader Joe's that my boyfriend used to work at is always stocked with well-organized, priced, and labeled food during open hours, but delivery trucks--driven by people--come after closing and deliver food for the next day that is unloaded and restocked by people--people who are ready for their shifts to end so they can go home to their personal lives. 

This last Black Friday, everybody shopped, trashed aisles, and stood in long lines for checkout that were controlled by employees who probably would rather be sleeping, but have expenses their jobs need to pay for. The traffic that we faced trying to get places this holiday were filled--from bumper to bumper--with mere people. The Trader Joe's employee behind the car of a business owner, behind the car of someone who just lost his job, behind the car of a woman in labor trying to get to the hospital, behind the bus of dozens with individual stories, grievances, and joys. 

My point is that large businesses and small businesses are separated only by sophisticated marketing techniques dependent on keeping the buying and selling process impersonal, because this keeps the focus on the product and the buyer's need for the product. It plays on human self-centeredness to encourage people to spend money on themselves. It's a brilliantly successful strategy that has tricked buyers into believing that the needs that their purchases are meeting are being met by money, and not people earning this money.

Do you see my point? Big businesses are like plastic to buyers. They're just businesses, as if businesses can run themselves. They maintain professional, impersonal, robotic brands that have tricked us all, and they've given us small businesses the false impression that we must maintain the same plastic branding to get the same official stamp of realness. To feel that we have grown from a "small business" to a "large business" from more than just the brackets on our tax paperwork. 

The difference between general blog posts and personal diary excerpts is that the blog posts have to have a point. This doesn't really, although that doesn't prevent it from having meaning to me. Having been trained in marketing, I understand the branding and marketing process to a far enough extent that I shouldn't have been fooled for so long about this--that the authenticity of a business isn't dictated by my ability to be impersonal while working. It is personal.

Yesterday my client texted me asking if I would help her order a product on Amazon ASAP and I told her I would have to do it after I finished Black Friday shopping. I ended up working on and completing the task between stores on my phone. My client said she totally understood, and I was happy to help her the moment I could--but I felt that the situation forced both of us to acknowledge the nature of my job, and how all over the place it can make my life sometimes.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my job, and I chose it specifically because I enjoy connecting personally with people that I work for, and I enjoy working during unusual business hours as the behind-the-scenes orchestrator of weddings. My job is perfect for me, and I gladly let it consume the majority of my time. 

What I have realized and decided, however, is that the nature of my job as a business owner requires not that I make my brand another, plastic corporate operation, but that I keep it manageable as a lifestyle. And given that the bulk of my work as a wedding planner includes clear communication, healthy and compassionate relationships, delegation skills, and teamwork, I would argue that keeping things honest and relational is absolutely necessary. 

Is that really so unprofessional and bad? I think that clients WANT to hire a wedding planner that they can connect with. They're going to share with me--over the course of the months, sometimes years, that we work together--personal concerns and aspects of their lives that they will desire and need me to respond with empathy, relatability and humor to. They need responses like, "I love that idea! That sounds like so much fun!", "I understand that feeling, I've felt that at X time in my life too. It's totally normal, don't worry.", and "It's okay that you're fifteen minutes late! I know how stressful life can get." 

This works for me. I find, to my utter joy, that my clients will extend the same grace to me as well, like when my client yesterday understood that I was Black Friday shopping, and told me to have a great time. The relationships I build with my clients become ones of mutual respect, patience, and honest enjoyment. The client I spoke with yesterday is a wonderful woman getting married next week, and we are both sharing in the excitement of it together. It's not just a job to coordinate her wedding for me, but a personal investment, because I WANT her wedding to be beautiful and perfect. I bought her and her fiance a wedding gift, and I feel sad that in a week we will be done working together trying to find deals on centerpiece flowers and backdrop curtains.

Wedding coordinator to bride, she is my client, and I am professional. But woman to woman...I kind of want to go to coffee with her sometime.

Will I ever? I'm not sure, but it makes me happy knowing I have these kinds of relationships with people that I work with on a regular basis. I know I'm very lucky to have such a pleasant working environment. 

I love my job. I LOVE my job. Here's to staying personal and keeping the hustle real.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

~ MaKenna 

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The Work-Life Balance

 PC officevibe.com

PC officevibe.com

As a business owner fairly new to the position of "my own boss", I must say that it can be a challenge to stay on top of everything. And...when I say that, I don't necessarily mean on top of the actual wedding planning, because I love that part, and always get that done with plenty of time to spare. What I mean is that it's hard to balance life when I am not given perimeters that would otherwise separate the work from the down-time for me. You know, keeping the peas on my dinner plate from rolling over into my nicely rounded mashed potatoes. I'm talking about that work-life balance! 

For example: when you have school, a job, and a personal life, and all of those things have their own locations, the given requirement to arrive at each location at a different time generally keeps them all separate and organized. Each thing gets its own part of you and your time; each thing has its own box. This makes it easy to be productive in the work place, attentive at school, and relaxed at home.

So what happens when you quit your job and work from home, take online classes--from home--and spend a huge amount of time doing all of these things that require different parts of you in the place that has always been designed for resting?

Simple: each thing fights for supremacy. It begins to determine what you "mostly" are. Are you mostly a student, or mostly a working stiff, or mostly a stay-at-home-whatever? Do you know what I mean?

I am not a college student--in that I am not working toward a degree--but I do take classes from time-to-time so that I am always learning. I would say that I most struggle to separate working from, well, living. There's always something to be done: updating my business Instagram, updating my advertising methods, broadening my network, filming a YouTube video, pinning on Pinterest, consulting with clients, coming up with fun things to blog about, the list goes on. Right alongside that, I have other things to do, such as schedule my hair appointment, or a dental checkup, or a coffee date, or make a run to the grocery store, take my spunky little dog on a walk, clean the kitchen, make lunch, run a load of laundry...

Being in a place where both types of things are possible (home), the tasks eventually begin to bleed together.  I find myself making lunch and then making a business phone call, and then filming a YouTube video following by a consultation, and then scheduling a quick appointment with a friend while I'm in the area. Walking the dog and then blogging and grocery shopping and then working on an Excel Spreadsheet... 

It's a beautiful mess of multitasking and hustlin' along to make life work (pun intended). Totally possible, but the constant switch wears on you after a while. It makes me really respect business owners who have successfully created the distinction between work and private life. 

The work-life balance isn't just a struggle for business owners though. It's also true for people in the midst of planning a huge wedding or event. It's a crazy jungle out there when your work-life balance is further confused by planning getting pushed into your private life! So exciting, but also...disruptive.

I understand the hustle. I think to some degree, we all struggle--from time to time--to keep life balanced. What are some things that you do to separate work from your personal life? I'd love to hear your ideas and experiences in the comments below. 

Keep hustlin'! You got this!

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Wedding Planning: What Not to Leave To the Last Minute

 PC Buhdoopspogspot.com

PC Buhdoopspogspot.com

As a wedding planning, hearing a client say, "I'm leaving X to the last minute" is my literal nightmare. The stakes are so high when you leave only time enough for something being done at the last minute to work the first time around. It puts pressure on everyone involved, and it means that I may be left to figure out how to fix "emergencies" that could've been calmly sorted through had they been done a month in advance. It's not a good idea. It's SO preventable. This is one of the best pieces of free advice anyone getting married can get. 

So, exactly what do you absolutely NOT leave to the last minute?

Uhm, everything??? Okay, okay, fine. I'll narrow it down to the following five things.

1) DIY Anything

This is the one I am going to make a blanket statement about. It's because projects look fun on Pinterest, but what you don't know is those fun Pinterest projects took HOURS. Day's, even. And you think the picture is of the first version of the thing they made? No, the first version of every project ever deemed Pinterest-Worthy was considered a learning curve and then thrown away. So will YOUR complicated paper-mache wedding card box that you're going to make the day before the rehearsal be any different? I am sorry my friend, but unless you're a paper-mache magician, you'll probably make the project, look at it, stress-cry, and then immediately Google wedding card boxes that have overnight shipping options. Do we want to go through that? No? Well I have good news. Do it two months before the wedding, and then perfect it again and again until it's your spirit animal and Pinterest-Worthy as ever. Without the stress-crying and expensive expedited shipping. 

In addition to preventing paper-mache disasters and unnecessary stress-crying, doing things ahead of time also means that it's okay if you run out of ribbon for your invites. You can always order more. It's okay if the hot glue used in your banquet table centerpieces isn't sticking anymore after your fiance accidentally watered one (how sweet of him!)... You have time to make another or re-glue the whole thing. Do you see a pattern here? Extra time will save your tush!

2) Vendor Bookings

You haven't booked your caterer and your wedding day is how many weeks away? Are you crazy? Sure, you've talked to them, and your wedding date was still available a month ago, but if someone else comes along also getting married on your wedding date and they're ready to sign that contract and make a payment, you're outta luck. And you now get to find someone else to cater gluten-free French Cuisine food to your 180 guests for $15 per person--including the wine. What if no one is available? What will you do? This wouldn't have happened if you'd just signed that contract four months ago.

Do you want this to be you? (Please, don't let it be you!) Get this stuff done in advance! You (and I!) will both look back together, laugh about how crazy it would have been if we had put it off, and then high-five. That sounds way more fun.

3) Delegating Wedding Party Tasks

Do you know who your ushers are going to be? Is your best man supposedly driving you and your new spouse to your hotel room after the reception? ...Did you tell him this? Who is going to take your wedding gifts to your house after the reception and you've gone off to your honeymoon? Who is helping clean up all of your DIY centerpieces and taking them from the reception to be stored in their garage so that the venue doesn't throw them away? Do your bridesmaids know that they're carpooling to the salon to get their hair done the day of the wedding at 8:15AM?

Because weddings involve people who aren't being paid to do a job, delegation and communication with the wedding party are sensitive issues to be handled with the utmost care. You love the people who you've chosen to involve in your wedding, and you absolutely want those relationships to continue afterwards! They require care and consideration. In some ways, the wedding party must volunteer to do the tasks listed above. Of course, some one needs to get them done, but it's a matter of who is appropriate for and able and willing to give of their time for each task. Don't put this off. Ask with enough time left that people are comfortable saying "no" if they need to. This way, the person who is best for the task can be utilized. 

4) Wedding Vows

These can take a long time to perfect, and you DO want your vows to be perfect. Spend the adequate time on them that they absolutely deserve. This is not something you'll have time for the morning of the ceremony, unlike what you might envision. The morning of the ceremony is full of feelings, full of people who have questions and concerns, and full of things that need to get done before the ceremony. Are you really going to have an hour to sit in some garden with a pen and notepad while you wait--with a clear, peaceful mind--for a wave of poetic inspiration to hit? Gurlll, you'll be Googling vows and speed-printing some blogger's words five minutes before your ceremony. And you know why those vows will be better than your scrambled ones? Because they were written MONTHS IN ADVANCE WHEN THAT LADY HAD TIME ON HER HANDS UNLIKE YOU. 

I'm only yelling because I want what's best for you, okay?

5) Wedding Attire

Can I not have to list this? Do NOT tell me your seamstress needs you to order fabric for the top of your dress when it's three weeks from your wedding date. Don't stress me out like that. More importantly, don't stress YOU out like that. Get those wedding shoes on your feet months in advance to lovingly break in. Order that garter! Order it in two sizes so you have time to return both and get one that fits perfectly! And get that dress figured out months in advance. Please. For our sanity. With every detail, pace yourself, leave time for error, and leave room for second thoughts.

 

....You might be thinking, "Wow, MaKenna, that's really harsh to expect all of these things to get done so far in advance." I understand that feeling. It's easy to think that 6 months until your wedding leaves you rich with time to spend leisurely considering twenty different things without actually committing to any. But 6 months will be 1 in so short a time that you just won't believe it. And then you'll realize that you have to make twenty big decisions in a week--and just watch, it'll be the week that your boss asks you to work overtime three days in a row for a big project, your car needs to go in for repairs, and the dog gets fleas. That's just life. You'll be sitting there at 2AM with your poor dog reading through contracts, wishing you'd just signed when you'd met with the caterer in person.

I don't write about this just because more on-top-of-it brides would make my job easier. The reality is that while I care about your wedding, nobody cares more than you. If your DIY origami name cards don't work out, I'll be able to objectively keep them off the banquet tables without much regret. If the fabric you ordered for the top of your dress comes in off-white, and you have to wear it, and a few people notice, you're going to care much more than I will. If you failed to sign the contract with the caterer you wanted in time, and have to settle for second best, I am not going to experience that sinking gut feeling, although I'll be sad on your behalf. In the end, these things impact you. The stress of the 11th hour may not be my favorite ever, but it's my job. It's YOUR wedding.

So take this with a grain of salt. This will ultimately help you. It will greatly improve the chances of your wedding's success! I know you can do it!

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11 Questions You Might Forget To Ask Your Venue (Before Booking)

This list doesn't need much description. Sometimes the venue search is too exciting to remember all of those important questions. Not to worry! The questions below are commonly forgotten, so if you go over these, and remember the basics, you should be golden.

 PC Belle The Magazine

PC Belle The Magazine

1) Do you have any discounts if I book on a day other than Saturday?

2) How many people can this location accommodate?

 PC The Knot

PC The Knot

3) Do you require that I use your caterer?

4) Are there alcohol restrictions, or corkage fees?

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

5) What's the weather contingency plan (for outdoor venues)?

6) Are their music volume restrictions my DJ will need to be aware of?

 PC WeddingWire

PC WeddingWire

7) Is there ample parking?

8) Are there any hidden fees like service fees, gratuities, cleaning fees, or overtime fees?

 PC Chaine Des Rotisseurs

PC Chaine Des Rotisseurs

9) Are there any decor limits? (Such as lit candles?)

10) Are there any photo restrictions?

 PC Brides

PC Brides

11) Who will be available during the event to direct us? 

Wanna know more about why these questions are important to ask? Check out the video below for my personal explanations.

Did you find these questions helpful? Have one to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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16 Eerily Beautiful Ideas for Your Halloween Wedding

Are you as in love with the idea of having a Halloween wedding as much as I am? You've stopped by the right place. There are thousands upon thousands of ideas out there on how to decorate for a perfectly spooky affair, I know, but I wanted to compile a few of my favorites here. Care to take a peek?

1) Bobbing For Apples

 Pc Pinterest

Pc Pinterest

Bobbing for apples has always been a game associated with fall and Halloween. Why not incorporate it into your wedding to dress up a bare corner? The blacker the water, the better. Cut out the tops of the apples and stick some battery-operated candles in there to make them glow!

2) Trick or Treat Bar 

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

A sweet bar with a little Halloween spin, this table decked with candy is sure to be a (trick or) treat!

3) Forest Tree Centerpieces

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Nothing like the idea of a dark, dangerous woods to freak your guests out just enough to keep them intrigued. This is a great option for weddings wanting only the suggestion of a darker Halloween theme.

4) Bat Chandelier

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

The phrase "Til Death Do Us Part" is a huge trend for Halloween weddings! (Maybe don't overdo it?) This picture, however, is tasteful with its simple nod to its origin--and come on, check out those painted wine bottles. Yes please? Yes PLEASE!

5) Red as a Theme Color

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Want to get a little gory with your wedding decor? Red will go a LONG way. Just look at this picture. What do you see? Blood stained napkins. That's what you see.

6) Skeleton Hand Napkin-Rings

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Need a hand with your napkins? Here is your literal answer.

7) Coffin Ring Box

 PC Etsy, Tellable Design

PC Etsy, Tellable Design

Nothing says "Til Death Do Us Part" like a ring carried around in a coffin. 

8) Dark Bouquets

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Remember that bit about the blood? It applies here.

9) Skull Wedding Cake

 PC Weddingomania

PC Weddingomania

If I'm honest, this cake is much more cute than it is frightening. It definitely suggests class, but with a whimsical edge. Your guests are sure to adore it in all of it's spook-tacular glory.

10) Black, White and Red Wedding Cake

 PC Cake Geek Magazine

PC Cake Geek Magazine

With Halloween weddings, it's important not to overdo it. Not everything has to be terrifying! A beautiful wedding cake with some darker colors is a good way to keep things balanced while cohesive.

11) A Non-White Wedding Dress

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Just a word--a Halloween wedding DOESN'T mean your dress must also be Halloween themed. At the end of the day, it's still a wedding, and you don't want to forfeit that wedding gown experience if you feel the alternative is too costume-y. You do you, boo. (See what I did there?)

...That being said--THIS. DRESS. 

12) Colored Smoke Bombs

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

From your engagement pictures to your reception photo booth, incorporating your wedding colors (especially if they're Halloween-related) into some smoke bomb fun is a great way to add some eerie mystery to the occasion.

13) Pumpkin Drink Bowl

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

These are great for the drink table or even as table centerpieces. Get creative! Pumpkins are cheap and simple decorations that can go a really long way.

14) Spiderweb Invitations

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Don't keep the Halloween fun limited to just October. Send out those bone-shivering invites any time of the year! Your guests will love it.

15) Skull and Poison Themed Centerpieces

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Get fun and edgy with those centerpieces. Your guests will be staring at them all throughout the meal, so keep the festive mood going!

16) Halloween-Themed Tableware

 PC Pinterest

PC Pinterest

Yeah, yeah, I know what I said about how trendy and unoriginal the phrase is, but come on. It's gonna get incorporated in there somehow! If your guests are being served a sit down meal, they won't notice this detail until their plates are empty!

Have a Halloween Wedding idea to share? I'd love to hear it in the comments below!

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Guest Post - All About Your Wedding Planner

I recently networked with a Wedding Planner in New York who was only too happy to share her insight into the business with me. I thought her answers to the questions listed below were an awesome resource for couples in the planning process of their weddings, and wanted to share.

Chantal Stephens is the owner of Events by Coco, located in New York.

 PC Silver Fox

PC Silver Fox

As a planner yourself, if you were hiring a planner/coordinator for your own wedding, what 3 things would you look for in that planner/coordinator?

"If I was planning the most important day of my life, I definitely would want a few particular things in a planner! She would need to be trustworthy, as I would want to make sure I feel comfortable trusting her with every detail in the planning process. She would need to have excellent communication skills, as I am the type of person that really likes when people are quick to respond. And she would need to be super friendly/caring as I would hope we would become friends because we will be together so much so I would want her to be someone I can easily get along with and have fun with!"

What's the most surprising thing you've learned about planning weddings?

"I have learned (quickly) that weddings involve a lot of details! They are very time consuming and take a lot of patience!! As a wedding guest, you are really missing ALL of the background noise and what it takes to make sure everything goes on without fail."

 PC Marrero Events

PC Marrero Events

Do you think having a Day-of Coordinator is absolutely necessary for a wedding to run smoothly?

"Yes, I absolutely do. As I mentioned above, weddings require many details, timelines, and it really gives a bride a much needed relief to not have to deal with all of that on their day. I love to be able to allow brides to enjoy the most important day of their lives!"

What's one thing you really want future couples to know about the wedding planning process?

"It doesn't have to be stressful!!! And there are so many ways to save money! It can be so much fun and enjoyable if you have the right planner guiding you through!"

What roles outside of a planner/coordinator does the wedding planner sometimes need to assume on the job?

"We are definitely a wearer of many, many hats. Whether it be planner, mediator, therapist, fashion adviser, quick thinker, problem solver, janitor, and so much more! Whatever we are faced with, we put that hat on and get to work!"

 PC The Balance

PC The Balance

What are the 5 top qualities you believe a good planner must have to be successful?

"Communication, compassion, strong planner/organizer, strong net-worker, creative eye!"

On the day of a wedding, what emergency items do you bring with you to solve potential issues? Why?

"I have a big emergency kit full of anything from tide, Advil, Pepto, wipes, water bottles, band aids, nail file, nail polish, tissues, mints, and so much more."

Any tips for couples looking to hire good planners/coordinators?

"When you first meet with them, you will feel whether they are right or not. The right planner will ask you the right questions, and you will truly feel like she could be your friend!"

Have anything to add? How would you answer the questions listed here? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Things To Do BEFORE Choosing Your Venue

 PC Karma Hill

PC Karma Hill

Everybody seems to think that the FIRST thing you do after getting engaged and begin the planning process is book your venue. While it certainly is smart to get it figured out right away, choosing it before deciding on anything is a huge mistake. Venue deposits generally aren't refundable, and generally represent a fairly large portion of your budget, so this isn't something you want to mess up on...

As a wedding planner, I've worked with clients who chose and booked their venue before understanding what they wanted the very essence of their wedding to be, and it forced them to adapt many of the big details they would've changed otherwise to match their venue. It makes me frustrated that couples who believe they need a planner don't think it's necessary to work with a planner to find their venue also. Trust me on this--there's a little more to it than just finding a space that you like that you can afford!

In hopes of improving others' experiences with venues, I've written out the top 5 things to do BEFORE choosing your venue. These things are so important to work through FIRST that I can promise the couples who go through this list and do the work a much happier experience with their venue choices throughout the entire planning process. 

Ready?

 PC lesanella.com

PC lesanella.com

#1 - Decide on Your Wedding Theme

Why? It doesn't make sense to book a barn for your reception if you are still thinking about a beach-themed wedding. Barn screams rustic, country, romantic, while beach says luau, chill vibes, and BBQ. Choosing a theme dictates what the desired atmosphere of your venue should be, and understanding that desired atmosphere as you look through venues will make the task of choosing much easier. Either it fits, or it doesn't. The bonus of choosing a venue that matches your theme means that you won't have to over-decorate to make your venue and theme marry (gasp! wedding pun!). If they're the right match, they'll work together perfectly just as they are, and isn't that better?

 PC Your North Country

PC Your North Country

#2 - Create Your Guest List

Since invites don't generally go out before 6-8 weeks before the big day, it might not seem obvious that you should have the guest list hammered out now--but it is so important! Venue rooms have a guest limit, so if you book a venue that fits just 100 heads, you can't add another 50 to your guest list after your mother comes to you with more names! 

Here's your Handy Dandy Guideline:

- For the ceremony, you should have about 6 square feet per guest.

- For the banquet tables, there should be about 12 square feet per guest.

- For the dance-floor, there should be about 8 square feet per guest.

Follow these guidelines and you'll be golden!

 PC Coco Wedding Venues

PC Coco Wedding Venues

#3 - Understand Your Wedding Budget

This determines what you can spend on your venue! If you book a venue for $5,000 without realizing that your total wedding budget is $10,000, you just spent a (generally non-refundable) 50% of your budget on your location! That's not much wiggle room...

 PC Bridebox Wedding Albums

PC Bridebox Wedding Albums

#4 - Decide What Other Kinds of Vendors You Will Hire

This is important not only so you can understand where you stand with your budget, but to understand how to accommodate your vendors needs...

Are you booking a DJ? You need to know--is there room for his DJ booth? Are there ample electrical plugs near the dance-floor? Will that booth fit around other tables you'll need such as the cake table, the consumption bar, the gift table, etc.?

Are you booking a caterer? Do they need a commercial kitchen or will they set up shop outside? If they set up outside, does the venue permit this? Is there an area where they can do this without being right in everyone's view?

Are you booking a florist who will need to arrange flowers on-site? They will need a corner during the morning of the wedding to do this without disturbing anyone. Will they get early access to the room?

These are all questions to keep in mind as you consider venues! Don't do yourself or your vendors the disservice of overlooking these details.

 PC Harper's Bazaar

PC Harper's Bazaar

#5 - Create a Basic Outline of Your Wedding Week Schedule

You might know you're getting married on a specific Saturday, so that's obviously the day you'll book, but did you make sure the venue is also available the day before for your rehearsal? You'd be shocked at how few couples think about this! Additionally, think about whether you'll need to be at the venue any other times before the wedding, and confirm with the venue manager that this is okay. You should especially be aware of when your decor and rentals will need to be delivered and set up. The venue will need to accommodate these vendors. (Late set up presents a whole new host of problems!)

Your wedding day schedule is also important to be aware of as you look at the actual building layout of your venue. If you have your wedding at the same venue in two different areas for the ceremony and reception, consider whether moving the crowd from one room to another other will present any technical difficulties. If there are other weddings or events going on the same day, is it possible your guests might end up in the wrong reception room? Don't let it happen!

Have any tips to add? Don't hesitate! Add them in the comments below!

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That Wedding Dress - Continued

A lot of you probably know that this summer I underwent a project involving seriously altering a wedding gown. It was time-consuming. It was mentally challenging. It was emotionally grueling. Buuuuut it was fun! And I documented the whole thing. Up above is Part Two! You can find Part One here.

Enjoy it? Don't forget to like and subscribe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Responsibilities of the Maid of Honor

 PC bridalguide.com

PC bridalguide.com

Everybody knows that the Maid of Honor is important--but exactly what does she do behind the scenes? You'd be surprised how many brides-to-be haven't the faintest idea what the Maid of Honor should actually be doing during the planning process and throughout the wedding day. Being a Maid of Honor is more than its title; it comes with a list of important responsibilities that are vital to the success of the wedding!

This blog post is dedicated to educating the very busy bride-to-be on what she can expect from a committed Maid of Honor. And for those still choosing who to designate as her Maid of Honor--perhaps this list will help you identify who of your closest friends would be most comfortable playing the role.

(In this post, the maid of honor is referred to as she/her for simplicity purposes, but this list also applies to male honor attendants as necessary).

 PC brides.com

PC brides.com

Pre-Wedding Tasks

Plans and organizes the wedding shower. This is usually done with the help of the bride’s mother and bridesmaids. At the shower, she keeps a list of who gave which gifts to make thank you cards easier to personalize.

Helps organize invitations, RSVP's, and reception guest favors. This is especially crucial if the guest list is quite large. The bride can't be expected to do all of this on her own! Tasks like this can also be shared by the bridesmaids. 

Spread’s word to guests about where the couple has set up their gift registry. This is important because it is not polite for the gift registry to be listed on the invitations. It is the wedding party's job to spread the word--at least until the registry is listed on the wedding website (if one is made). 

Helps organize the bridesmaids. She gives out friendly reminders to place dress orders, have alterations completed, and have shoes and accessories ready well before the wedding date. She also attends the dress fittings, including the bride's, and may help the bride shop for her gown.

Participates in the bridesmaid lunch, the ceremony rehearsal, and the rehearsal dinner. Just as the rest of the bridesmaids do. 

 PC dinelaphotography.com

PC dinelaphotography.com

Pre-Ceremony Tasks

Attends all wedding-party related meetings, appointments, and organized meals. She also makes sure the bridesmaids are there as needed.

Helps decorate the reception hall if needed.

Assists the bride with anything necessary as she's getting ready for the ceremony. (Hair and makeup, getting into her dress, etc.) 

Makes sure the bride eats something before the ceremony. The last thing you want is a fainting bride!

Helps the bride pack for her honeymoon if she’s planning to leave right after the ceremony.

Is the “keeper of the train” before, during, and after the ceremony. (If) after the bride removes the train for the reception, the maid of honor can store it in a predetermined place, such as in a safe box in a wedding party car. 

Participates in any pre-ceremony photography sessions that have been scheduled.

 PC luxedestinationweddings.com

PC luxedestinationweddings.com

Ceremony Tasks

Walks down the aisle at the appropriate time and takes her place beside the bride for the duration of the ceremony.

Holds the grooms ring (usually on the thumb for safekeeping) until the official exchanging of rings.

Holds the brides bouquet.

Arranges the bride’s veil for the ceremonial kiss.

Acts as a legal witness and signs the marriage license.

 PC brides.com

PC brides.com

Reception Tasks

Poses for photographs with the rest of the wedding party. She also helps round up relatives and other members of the wedding party to pose for photos.

Helps the bride bustle her dress before the reception starts. Throughout the night, she also helps the bride manage her dress during bathroom breaks if the gown is particularly elaborate.

Stands in the receiving line, or mingles and greets guests while the bride and groom finish taking photographs.

Introduces guests to each other during the reception.

Acts as a messenger for the bride, communicating information to the wedding party as needed. Also acts as a runner for any last-minute errands that pop up unexpectedly during the reception.

Directs guests toward the guestbook, the gift table, and the restrooms.

Makes a toast or short speech in honor of the bride and groom.

Collects gift envelopes (and money for the money dance, if there is one) for safe-keeping.

With help from the rest of the wedding party, decorates the getaway car.

 PC guestofaguest.com

PC guestofaguest.com

Post-Wedding Tasks

Helps clean up after the reception, if needed.

Takes the wedding gown for preservation if the bride leaves right away for her honeymoon.

Helps transport gifts to the newlywed’s home.

Attends the post-wedding breakfast or brunch, and helps keep track of who gave which gift if gift-opening is part of the event.

 

Have you ever been a maid of honor? What was your experience, and do you have anything to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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More About That Wedding Dress!

I recently put the video embedded above up on YouTube. It is the first of three videos documenting the many hours of my life I spent sewing away at a wedding dress for a photo shoot. You can read more about that photo shoot here! I am very excited about getting my feet wet in the YouTubing world and hope that you will stop by sometime, watch a couple videos, and maybe like and subscribe. 

If you're remotely interested in sewing, clothing design, pattern making, or weddings in general, clicking on the video above is the perfect way to start!

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3 Ways To Stay Organized During The Planning Process + Freebie!

 PC pixabay.com

PC pixabay.com

One of the issues I've faced during the planning process of some of my projects is what I call "Unexpected Eleventh Hour Syndrome". This is what happens when you spend all of the months leading up to the Big Day waiting for the last few weeks to do what you didn't realize you could've done ahead of time. It's not purposeful procrastination--just learning the hard way that you could've done something differently to make your life about a thousand times easier. 

Don't do that. Unexpected Eleventh Hour Syndrome (UEHS) is a terrible curse to be avoided when at all possible. To help you out, I've listed some things that I personally do to avoid last minute crazes, and I'm also giving you access to a free downloadable to help you keep track of the To-Do's leading up to the Big Day.

 PC thesuburbanmom.com

PC thesuburbanmom.com

1) Devote an entire calendar to your event. 

This allows you to connect your To-Do's to a visual time-line that puts itself in the context of real time. The freebie mentioned in the headline is an Excel Spreadsheet I made for this exact purpose! It includes an edit-friendly calendar starting from September 2016, lasting through December 2017, with a large area available for notes to be made pertaining to due dates, specific tasks, and vendors. (Check the end of the post for more details.)

 PC thehuffingtonpost.com

PC thehuffingtonpost.com

2) Plan backwards.

What needs to be done the day of the event? What about the day before? Treat this like a pyramid--the day-of tasks are the very top, resting on a foundation of the tasks done the day before. Those things rely on things done the week before, and the month before, etc. This will force you to understand what things must be done in a specific order, and why. From there, you can figure out when you can most efficiently complete certain tasks.

 PC vertex42.com

PC vertex42.com

3) Stay ahead of schedule.

If you're down to 6 months before your event, you should be working on those things as well as the things you'll need to do during the next month. Keep in mind that this requires you to understand the productivity rates and accuracy of you and the people responsible for completing the tasks on your lists. So if you or another person responsible tend to put things off or work slowly, compensate by working ahead. This will enable you to avoid the much dreaded Unexpected Eleventh Hour Syndrome!

Want this freebie? All you need to do is fill out my Contact page and ask me to send it to you! You'll find a downloadable version in your inbox shortly!

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